A summer barbecue is the best way to spend a long afternoon, with kids and adults alike enjoying lawn games and savoring the outdoors. Of course, along with the playing may be an extended afternoon of eating too, and sometimes not the best choices. I’ve narrowed it down to the top five nutrition “traps” that may be present at your next grill fest and some great swaps for getting around them.
Trap #1: The Snack Bowl
Seems so simple, just a bowl of snacks that you can grab from in between rounds of lawn games. While you may be able to report your Cornhole score, will you know just how many chips you ate?
Smarter snack: Avoid this unconscious eating trap by serving yourself the right amount of snacks–on your own plate–and eating from that dish only. When it comes to building your snack plate, pass on the chips all together and go for veggies or these crunchy Carrot Chips instead.
Trap #2: Embedded in the Burger
Can you imagine serving your guests a 3 oz. burger? This used to be the norm. Over the past twenty years, our portions have slowly increased to the super-sized plates of food we now know. Today’s cheeseburger pushes nearly 600 calories, a result of the 6 oz. patty, a thicker slice of cheese and a large (often buttered) bun.
Build this burger: Begin with 4 oz. of 85% ground sirloin and top with Cabot Sharp Light Cheddar Cheese. Or go for a much leaner ground chicken burger or possibly even a Black Bean and Quinoa Burger. Swap out a bulky bun for a smaller, unbuttered, whole grain variety or thin bread.
Trap #3: Your Beverage
Hydration on a warm summer day is quite important, but what you hydrate with matters too. Be sure to balance out your day with many glasses of good ol’ water, seltzer or another low/no calorie drink.
Sip on these: If water or seltzer seems boring, add some flavor with a bit of 100% pure juice or sliced, fresh citrus fruit, berries or cucumber. You can also add flavor to water or seltzer with coconut water and fruit ice cubes. Simply pour coconut water into an ice cube tray and drop a few berries into each soon-to-be ice cube. As they melt, they will flavor the drink–and look nice doing it!
Trap #4: A Side with That?
Creamy sides are high in saturated fat and calories. Since there are other places you would probably rather get those calories (the sundae bar for example), consider passing on these sides and going for the veggies and grilled corn instead.
Safer sides: Prepare your coleslaw with non-fat Greek yogurt or use rice vinegar to make an Asian slaw. Prepare protein and fiber rich whole grain salads or create a unique side that will wow your guests like this Roasted Corn, Black Bean and Mango Salad, which can be served cold or at room temperature.
Trap #5: The Blackened Meat…It’s Worse than Overcooked
Charred meat, chicken and fish from the grill can contain harmful chemicals. These compounds, created when animal proteins are charred (it doesn’t happen with veggies) have the potential to change the chemical makeup of a cell, which increases risk of cancer.
Great grilling tips: There are many ways to prevent meats from charring. You can also avoid the potential altogether by grilling more veggies. Enjoy hearty vegetarian burgers other delicious dishes from the grill.
For more great grilling tips, join us on June 7 for our Healthy Grilling Webinar.